I’ll try to ignore all the things I normally dislike about Dora and just focus on the special kind of awful featured in Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom.
For some reason, it seems like the writers tried to turn this into a musical. I know Dora has songs in every episode, but this has some special songs with more instrumental accompaniment. There was enough effort put in to write some rhyming lyrics, but not nearly enough to make the songs actually decent.
I hate to do this, but we have to cover the plot a bit. Dora episodes aren’t normally narrative master-strokes, but this is particularly bad.
The whole obsession with crystals doesn’t make any sense at all, for starters. The Crystal Kingdom has four crystals that provide the colors for their world. Yellow is for the sun, blue for water and sky, green for trees, and red completes the rainbow. Which one of these things is not like the other? Really? You couldn’t come up with something for red to do? If not, just leave it at three crystals. I can’t believe I’m even analyzing this.
Dora also has a crystal that was given to her by the Snow Princess (in a special I haven’t seen) that somehow allows the Snow Princess to communicate with Dora. For some other unexplained reason, the Snow Princess is omniscient in the Crystal Kingdom.
The villain in the story is the “greedy king.” He steals the crystals because, well, he’s greedy. So instead of the crystals being used to generate color in the kingdom, he keeps them all to himself and hides them in other stories. We probably shouldn’t look for motivation past greed, since it doesn’t really make sense for someone who rules over a kingdom to steal crystals that are part of the kingdom. Doesn’t he own them anyway? The rest of the kingdom just benefits from the colors the crystals produce. If I had more faith in the creative geniuses behind Dora (or if I were feeling more masochistic), I’d want to explore the crystals as a commentary on the tragedy of the commons. Ummm, we’ll just move on.
While I find Dora Saves the Crystal Kingdom to be an extra-long, extra-bad episode of an awful show, my son seems to think it’s Citizen Kane meets Star Wars. He has been talking for weeks about the greedy king, and the crystals, and how we need to get the colors back. Ugh.